Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56Summer 2016 | 15 The National Trail Strategy released by the USFS affects everyone equally.The USDA Forest Service is struggling financially. Budgets are being cut, yet costs are higher, and there are fewer and fewer employees and resources due to the lack of funding and budgetary cuts. In addition, the USDA Forest Service estimates that they will spend 2/3 of their budget this year fighting forest fires. This does not leave much funding available for trails. The USDA Forest Service is taking a hard look at their road/trails systems within all of their forests in an effort to make a clear determination of which roads/trails are sustainable and should be funded with the dwindling budgets, and which roads/trails should be closed out. A separate, yet related, part of this process involves leveraging of their partner organizations, including organized snowmobile groups. It will become imperative that snowmobile organizations and other recreational user groups step up and lend a helping hand physically and financially in an effort to maintain forest service roads and trails in the coming years. There is no telling what direction this will take, but we will continue to do our part. Avalanche Awareness Avalanche awareness was a major topic of discussion throughout the IASA meetings. This is not something we think about here in the east. However, this is an important topic out west. I feel it is important to make mention of it here in the hopes that I can open at least one person’s eyes with what I learned. The majority of snowmobile fatalities in the west are due to avalanches. The majority of these fatalities are “imported,” or in other words, are riders from other states who are not prepared for the mountain riding of the west. The main focus of the discussions during the IASA meetings was to find ways to educate riders, even those from the east, about the dangers of riding in avalanche areas. It is crucial to understand the weather patterns and other variables that contribute to avalanches and to also understand there are ways to plan and avoid these areas regularly. There are numerous websites that a rider can go to that will provide them with information on snow depth, wind direction, sun angle and important characteristics that are typical of any avalanche. Weather is the main determining factor in avalanches, which typically take place on hills with a slope of 30–45 degrees. In addition to knowing the weather conditions contributing to an avalanche, riders must also prepare for the worst and have three items with them when riding in avalanche country. Similar to carrying a life jacket while boating, all riders who are operating snowmobiles in avalanche terrain should be carrying: 1. A folding snow probe that folds out to at least eight feet in length and of a rugged design that can easily pass through packed avalanche snow 2. A transmitter beacon 3. A good shovel that can be used in packed avalanche snow without breaking All riders in a group must not only have these, but must also know how to use them properly. Avalanche training courses are available and should be taken by all riders in a group. The course doesn’t do you any good if you are the one who is buried. You rely on those in your riding group to be properly trained to locate you and dig you out if need be, just as they rely on you to do the same for them if the table is turned. This was all interesting stuff for an easterner who has never had to worry about avalanche conditions. I hope that this message reaches some of you before you plan your next trip out west. Take the course, purchase the correct gear, know how to use it and live to do it again another time. Below are links to some good information on avalanche awarenes and preparedness. GPS Fleet Tracking GPS tracking units have been a topic of conversation for years, even here at the VAST office. It was interesting to learn that many other states and provinces are in a similar situation as Vermont right now. We are all waiting for that stand out company to step forward with the perfect tracking unit that works flawlessly and has the software and support to eliminate all of the paperwork and perform the basic payroll functions we need. All of us want it at a reasonable price that our small associations can afford too! There were a number of companies in attendance at ISC who were trying to sell their tracking devices to trail managers. I was able to talk with a few the lack of funding and budgetary cuts. In addition, the USDA Forest Artwork courtesy International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association